Boeing 737 NGs had 1.55 billion seats in 2019 – we explore routes
Boeing 737 next generations had 1.55 billion non-stop seats in 2019, OAG data shows.
This was up from 712 million in 2010.
Given the economics of the -800, this model had over three-quarters of all NG seats in 2019 at 1.18 billion – its highest ever.
And reflecting the trend for higher-capacity narrowbodies with lower unit costs and greater revenue opportunities, only the share of -800s and -900s increased since the start of the decade.
Globally, the top-10 operators of NGs had 48% of these 1.55 billion. In order of use, they were Southwest, Ryanair, United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, China Southern, Gol, Lion Air, Turkish Airlines, and Xiamen Air.
In this first instalment, we look at the smaller NGs: the -600 and -700.
Boeing 737-600s: just 0.30% of NG capacity
The -600 has never been popular. It had just 4.6 million seats in 2019 – 0.30% of NG capacity – down from 12.4 million back in 2010.
Its unpopularity is largely because of its higher weight in relation to equivalent aircraft. And the -700, only slightly heavier, had a much greater payload.
The economics of -600s are not favourable, except in niche circumstances.
Only four airlines used the -600 last year: WestJet, SAS, Tunisair, and Air Algerie. WestJet had almost half of seats.
SAS retired its -600s in November 2019 after 21 years. It was by far the largest -700 operator in the past decade.
In its last year with SAS, over three-quarters of seats by this model were deployed domestically, primarily within Sweden rather than Norway.
Across all airlines, just over half of -600 seats were domestic. Worldwide, Calgary – Vancouver was by far the top domestic route, with the aircraft used up to 30 times weekly. WestJet took all but one of the top-10 domestic spots.
In contrast, Tunisair was the top international operator of the -600. Tunisia, France, Canada, the US, and Algeria were the model’s top-five countries for international capacity.
|Top domestic routes by B737-600 seats||Top international routes by B737-600 seats|
|Calgary – Vancouver||209,841||New York LGA – Toronto||279,675|
|Edmonton – Vancouver||100,683||Algiers – Marseille||88,203|
|Luleå – Stockholm ARN||100,080||Djerba – Paris Orly||68,040|
|Edmonton – Toronto||80,569||Helsinki – Stockholm ARN||58,560|
|Calgary – Victoria||78,840||Monastir – Nice||50,526|
|Calgary – Kelowna||77,631||Lyon – Monastir||40,320|
|Calgary – Winnipeg||76,049||Djerba – Lyon||38,808|
|Abbotsford – Calgary||72,320||Djerba – Paris CDG||36,918|
|Edmonton – Victoria||63,054||Monastir – Paris Orly||36,036|
|Toronto – Vancouver||60,455||Algiers – Rome Fiumicino||35,938|
|Source: OAG Schedules Analyser.|
87% of Boeing 737-700 seats deployed domestically
The Boeing 737-700 had 224 million seats in 2019, up marginally over 2010. Its share of NG capacity more than halved in this period, from 31% to 14%.
With over three-quarters of -700 seats last year, Southwest was obviously the model’s top operator.
The -700 revolved around 13 countries, with these having 95% of the model’s capacity. Aside from the US, 12 countries had more than one million seats: China; Canada, Brazil, Norway, Netherlands, Oman, Sweden, Mexico, Argentina, Angola, India, and Nigeria.
A further 76 countries had more than 100,000, led by Italy, Panama, and Russia. They were joined by nations as disparate as Iraq (263,000) and Belize (116,000).
Because of Southwest’s enormous use of the -700, over 87% of its seats were domestic in 2019.
However, the model’s international realm was Western Europe, with 37% of such capacity. In contrast, Central and Western Africa alone had more international seats than all of Asia-Pacific.
Western Europe’s dominance mainly because of KLM, the world’s largest international user of -700s. Four in ten of the model’s core international routes were by KLM.
Despite this, Medellin – Panama City was the number-one international route, with Copa operating it up to 41 weekly.